Nanaimo jeweler Dee Fontans at work in her home studio. Starting Nov. 2 her exhibition Silver Lining comes to Gallery Merrick. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo jeweler Dee Fontans holds first local exhibition at Gallery Merrick

Show will feature earrings and pendants with raw and polished gemstones

For her first solo exhibition in Nanaimo, Dee Fontans has hand crafted a series of earrings and pendants that are at once coarse and refined.

“I’m marrying together raw rocks and crystals that just come from the earth, Mother Earth has brought them to us,” the local jewelry maker said. “And then I’m combining them with gems that have been touched by man, so that they’re highly polished, so it’s this kind of contrast.”

Her goal was to create pieces in the style of talismans or heirlooms, considering the meanings behind the stones and “making something that gives the individual … some kind of personal power.”

Fontans is a fourth-generation metal worker. Originally hailing from New Jersey, she taught jewelry making and wearable art at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary for 25 years before moving to Nanaimo in 2016.

This weekend her first Nanaimo show, Silver Linings, comes to Gallery Merrick, the gallery where she also works.

She said gallery proprietor Joe Bembridge suggested she make pieces that strayed from her usual designs and techniques and were inspired by her new home.

“I’m putting together perhaps this sophisticated stone with this more raw, earthy stone, and I’m putting it together because that’s where I am now. I’m taking the experience that I’ve had and I’m melding it together.”

As an impulsive person (she bought her house on her first day in town), Fontans said she was drawn to metalwork because it slows her down and makes her think. She said it can take 40 hours to craft a single piece of jewelry.

“I try and put an energy into the objects that I make that is patient and joyful and grateful,” Fontans said. “And so when I see somebody enjoy that piece, I’m really happy for them because we’re sharing something.”

WHAT’S ON … Opening reception for Silver Lining by Dee Fontans takes place at Gallery Merrick, 13B Commercial St., on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. Show runs through the weekend.

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